Monday, September 5, 2011

managing calf pain

The evidence for what works in managing sports injuries is one of the more frustrating areas of health-related research that I've come across. During my MP run 16 days ago, I got a sudden calf pain that felt something like a cramp. At the time I didn't think it was a cramp because my gastrocnemius muscle (at least) wasn't obviously balled up. But maybe it was the deeper soleus. I assumed it was some sort of muscle strain (tearing). My management included no stretching, no strength training, no massaging, no nsaids, no icing, and no heating but only initial rest then running with short walk recoveries (note on my pain scale: 3 is noticeably sore, 5 is painful to run, and 7 is painful enough to not run, and 9 is painful enough to want to amputate). The initial pain was a 7.
S - off, sore
M - off, sore
T - 2.2 miles alternating walk/jog every 1/3 to 1/2 mile, pain = 2-3
W - attempted to run back cove 5k at 8 min/mi but at mile 1.1 pain went from 2-3 to 4-5. Continued walking/jogging rest of 5K with pain at 4, no soreness in evening
Th - 3.7 miles at back cove. Ran (7:35-8 m/m) 3.1 miles at pain=1-2 then sudden jump to 4-5. Walked remaining 1/2 mile, no soreness in evening
F - 4.8 miles on Brook rd (mostly flat). Ran (8 m/m) 3 miles at pain = 1-2 then sudden jump to 4. Walked most of rest with some light jogging. Sore (pain=1) that evening.
S - 4.8 on Brook Rd. 4 x 1 mile with 1/4 mile walk recoveries. Pain = 2. worked well.
S - off
M - 3 x 2 miles (7:12-7:59 m/m) @ back cove with 1/4 mile walk recoveries. Pain = 1. noticed pain on stairs before though (much more than running). Speed didn't seem to aggravate soreness.
T - off
W - 7.7 at RIT perimeter rd. 3 x 2.5 miles with 1/8 mile walk recoveries. Progression: 7:40 7:13 7:10 6:42 6:32 6:21. Last 1/3 at 6:08. Pain = 0.
Th - 4 + 2.5 + 1.5 mile with 1/8 mile walk recoveries. Brook Rd. Pain=0 first 6 mi then =1 last two.
F - 3 x 2 miles with 1/8 mile walk recoveries. 1st 3 miles community park trail last 3 on road. Progression: 6:42 6:48 (long hill) 6:22. Pain = 0
S - 10.5 very easy miles at Bradbury with several very short walk breaks. Pain = 0
S - 13.1 road (Woodville/Woods/Winn) at 7:30 min/mi with 4 1/8 walk recoveries every 3 miles. Pain = 0

So while I cannot say that the run-walk strategy was necessary for effective management (since I didn't try continuous running, at least after day 4), the run-walk strategy at least allowed me to run decent mileage and even some fast miles. To be continued...


  1. My 2¢: From my own calf issues, it really just takes time and patience, which may be more painful than the initial injury. Oh, and a massage from Julia.

  2. I'll definitely 2nd the massage from Julia, but really wanted to say how much I enjoy your analytical posts. Analysis with humor : )